|Anderson steps through the process of putting together a multilayered image
By Colin Anderson
Creating a shot like this usually requires a lot of experimenting, like putting a big jigsaw together—back and forth, dropping in one element, replacing another, modifying a piece here and there, or disregarding yet another altogether. Having an extensive library of backgrounds and elements is also important so you can work quickly.
1) Usually, the first step is building the background so that, when the model is brought into the studio, l can match lighting and perspective. Knowing l had to put a city into the shot, l pieced together numerous buildings, both real and CG, to make the skyline.
2) A suitable sunset cloud was added, as l wanted the shot to be dark at the top to allow for stars to stand out while still light at the bottom to silhouette the buildings.
3) To build the inside of the room, l placed some steel pillars for a modern look and added reflections by creating nine spotlights on a dark background in 3D. I then set the Layer Opacity down to let some of the background come through.
4) A star field was added on top, which was created by simply adding noise to a black layer and turning the Levels up to add contrast and pull the stars out. I then painted a Milky Way effect using a big soft brush with a low opacity.
5) The floor was created in 3D. I added a metallic surface and used spotlights to add highlights.
6) The actual projector was simply a child’s toy that stood in for a futuristic game console. The flare from the projector was created by painting onto a black layer, then setting it to Lighten and masked away to contain the glow.
7) The beams were achieved by applying a strong motion-blur filter to static from a TV screen image and transforming it into shape and setting it to the Overlay mode.
8) The exploding planet was created in 3D, as was the explosion, using PyroCluster, a plug-in for Cinema 4D. The planet’s cracks were shaped by simply using a custom brush that had a cracking texture to it. The planet’s ring was a colored-star background that had a twirl filter heavily applied and then transformed into shape, masked away and set to Screen mode.
9) To balance the image, l placed an Earth-type planet, which was created in 3D, to the side of the exploding one and set it to the Lighten mode so it appeared like a hologram and part of the game.
10) The shot needed a spacecraft to make the game look interactive, so instead of modeling one in 3D, which could take hours, l used a model airplane and modified it.
Finally, at this stage, with the background now built, l brought in the model. To match the lighting, a bank light was positioned to the right and a second to the left and then shot on a white background. The final stages to completing the picture were dropping the shot of the model in and using color balance with blue dialed up to blend him into the background.